Shangri-la: not the Green Robin Hoods you think

by dm00

TJ writes in defense of Shangri-la (pay close attention, especially, to Trapmind’s comments on reading Science Fiction).

Ani-nouto replies, but seems to think the show’s environmental and political message is trite and straightforward, and seems to shrug the series off as a result.

I think the politics has the potential of being one of the best parts of the series, and currently poses one of its more interesting puzzles.

I think the show may turn your expectations upside down.

The show may turn your expectations on their head.

First, the claim that “poor of Duomo are happy and free-spirited”, is pretty clearly not true. They’re poor, they have poor medical care, they’re desperate, and, as is often the case, they are divided as to where their salvation lies — Metal Age, Atlas, or perhaps somewhere else?  These are not the placid Earth-dwellers living in harmony and peace with Mother Nature, resisting the oppression of their despoiling, capitalist overlords.  They like their Atlas chocolate bars, and they like medical care, and they like electric lights.  They would like to live in Atlas, and queue up for the opportunity and the Green card lottery.

What does “Metal Age” represent?  I suspect the common feeling is that they’re some group of Green Robin Hoods and Miyazaki Marauders.  And, I can imagine such a thing would seem a bit trite, even though I’m sympathetic to the idea of Green Robin Hoods, and quite fond of Miyazaki.  With a name like “Metal Age”, how green can they be?  That’s not a phrase that rolls trippingly off the tongue of a Deep Ecologist.  In episode one their idea of a party to celebrate Kuniko’s return was stoking up the boilers.  This is blamed for a subsequent bobble in the CO2 market, prompting a response from the environmental enforcers.   I don’t know that Metal Age are the narodniks that people expect to find as the central protagonists in a series set in the aftermath of a great environmental change.

Not that there isn’t a bit to be said for Miyazaki Marauders, though their warnings are best listened to before the waters rise and the food shortages grow acute.

I’m looking forward to seeing how all that works itself out as the series progresses.

"Polka dots"

"Polka dots"

Another thing I’m enjoying in this series is the way Gonzo is constantly teasing the audience about their own notorious panchira ways.  Another turning of expectations on their head.

8 Responses to “Shangri-la: not the Green Robin Hoods you think”


  1. 1 Snark April 23, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    lol, love the Lucky Star picture😄

    Anyways, I personally think Shangri-La is shaping up to be something good; the whole higher society versus lower caste thing might not be the freshest idea around, but Shangri-La definitely looks like it’s got a firm idea of the story its telling and how best to do it.

    In time, I reckon the series will shine through as the gem of this season.

    Either that, or I could be completely wrong and it might just blow. Either way -_-

  2. 2 Anonymous April 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Shenanigans with Akira and boomerangs.

    Im sold.

  3. 3 tj han April 23, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Yeah, like people who read Dune the book either put it down in 4 minutes saying, WTF is GROM JABBAR??, or continue reading.

  4. 4 vendredi April 24, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Shangri-la definitely has the feel of a gem – an uncut one that’s rather rough, but there’s something shining in there. I’m a little surprised at most of the “meh” reactions – i think this post and tj_han’s are the only supportive ones i’ve seen – and I’m not really sure why – Last Exile was certainly this slow to start with and it’s generally considered very favourably. Maybe it’s just the technobabble? (the WTF IS GOM JABBAR?, as tj_han points out)
    If so, i haven’t had too much trouble with it yet… but then again, I am overly fond of pretension.

  5. 5 Son Gohan April 24, 2009 at 3:31 am

    So far I am a bit disappointed with Shangri-la. This series doesn’t know what it wants to be. It looks like political drama, but then you have a scene where an okama with a whip chases away professional soldiers while screaming “MEN!”…
    I also dislike characters that are nasty for no reason other than telling “I am evil” to the audience. I am referring both to the dictator bitch and to the loli priestess who can kill without breaking a sweat.

    • 6 TheBigN April 24, 2009 at 7:01 am

      In my opinion, I really think it’s less the show knowing it wants to be, but rather, what we want the show to be. Or just being impatient since it’s only been three episodes so far. I could see this problem being justified halfway through the show, but three episodes in makes me think people are a little impatient/want instant understanding/gratification. But I’m being mean and shallow saying that.

  6. 7 Legionarion Conquistadorz April 27, 2009 at 6:34 am

    @Son Gohan
    Indeed. The story had a good premise, good potential for some politically intriguing storyline, but the problem is that GONZO couldn’t give us characters with depth.

  7. 8 yosra December 22, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    I always thought about how the Japanese people getting there anime series ideas ?
    It looks really interesting … thanks for the great post… I will watch it as soon as possible


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